Government advisers back adjuvanted flu vaccine for over 65s from 2018

Government advisers have concluded that adjuvanted flu vaccines are clinically more effective and more cost-effective for patients aged over 65 than vaccines currently used in the UK.

Flu jab: adjuvanted vaccine backed for over 65s (Photo: iStock)
Flu jab: adjuvanted vaccine backed for over 65s (Photo: iStock)

The Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) has said the adjuvanted flu vaccine ‘would be more effective than the non-adjuvanted vaccines currently in use’ in those aged over 65 , according to minutes from its latest meeting.

It added that cost modelling shows the vaccine would be ‘highly cost-effective’ in both the 65-74 and over 75 age groups.

It comes after a series of flu seasons dominated by the A(H3N2) strain, which have hit older patients hard. Public Health England (PHE) concluded that last year’s vaccine was not effective in this age group due to drift. GP services are braced for another heavy season this year.

GPs will be able to order the adjuvanted flu vaccine for the first time starting from next year, in the 2018/19 season.

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How could an adjuvanted vaccine help GPs tackle flu?

Vaccine effectiveness

Minutes for the meeting said: ‘The committee agreed that the available evidence indicated adjuvanted influenza vaccines were more effective in those over 65 years of age, compared with influenza vaccine currently used in the UK.

‘Mathematical modelling indicated that, under quite conservative estimates of effectiveness, the adjuvanted vaccine would be highly cost-effective in both the 65-75 and 75 and over age groups.’

RCGP vaccination lead Dr George Kassianos said: ‘I very much welcome this guidance by the JCVI.

‘Year on year, it is becoming more and more evident that conventional non-adjuvanted influenza vaccines do not provide sufficient protection for our older patients, particularly in years dominated by the influenza A(H3N2) virus, which dominated the flu season last year and the year before.

‘Use of this adjuvanted vaccine is expected to result in fewer infections, fewer GP consultations and hospital admissions, and a significantly reduced winter burden on the NHS.

‘GP practices are now able to seriously consider the adjuvanted flu vaccine for their patients aged 65 years and over for the 2018-19 flu season.’

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